Do you have a competitive edge when it comes to sports? Guest Blogger Ian Douglass shares how you can compete in the Grand Rapids Meijer State Games June 25-28 – and even win a gold medal!
With roughly 10,000 participants between its winter and summer events, the Meijer State Games of Michigan is the largest sports festival in the state. The upcoming Summer Games will take place on June 25th through 28th, and for athletes in several sports, the events provide an opportunity to compete for the most legitimate version of a state championship available.
On one hand, competitions like the hockey championship are contested in a tournament format by regional all-star teams. These teams comprise the elite high-school-aged ice hockey players in Michigan. For these athletes, winning gold means that you outlasted the best of the best.
Conversely, there are other sports that, for one reason or another, don’t yet attract Michigan’s elite athletes in large numbers. So, if you’re in the Grand Rapids region in late June and you’re looking to give your competitive energy a healthy outlet, here are the five sports that just about everyone can participate in, and that also give you the best opportunity to win that state championship medal you always wanted. And, as an added bonus, a Meijer State Games medal earns you a spot in the championship showcase of the National Congress of State Games – The State Games of America.
1. Swimming – East Kentwood High School Aquatic Center
The Meijer State Games of Michigan swimming event is a short-course-yards meet held during the beginning of what is traditionally the long-course-meters season. While the event attracts an acceptable number of participants from the younger age groups, almost no high-school-aged swimmers participate. This leaves plenty of opportunities to pick up a medal with minimal difficulty for any high school swimmers that aren’t excited about swimming in long-course meets that weekend.
Also, the same holds true for the masters swim meet held in the afternoon. If you are at least 18 years old, you can enter the meet and compete in as many events as you want against other swimmers in your five-year age bracket. For the record, this provides masters swimmers with as many as 11 separate chances to take home a gold medal.
2. Track & Field – East Kentwood High School Stadium
While competitive swimming still enjoys widespread participation by Michigan athletes even after they’ve finished their college careers, the same cannot be said of track and field. Within a one-month span, Michigan Masters Swimming and Michigan Track & Field each held their respective seasonal state championship events. The swimming event drew nearly 400 participants and the track yielded fewer than 50.
Coincidentally, track season concludes in June, and capable young runners will be in fantastic shape, so winning medals against a light field of competitors should be a cinch for high-school-aged athletes. For masters runners, the field of competitors is sparse and the age groups are plentiful, so it is difficult to compete in multiple track & field events at the Meijer State Games and not win a medal.
3. 5K Run – East Kentwood High School Cross Country Course
We’ve all seen the stickers on the bumpers of cars that say 13.1 (half marathon) or 26.2 (full marathon), which are intended to indicate distances the drivers of those vehicles have run in a competitive setting. Well, if the mile sticker on the back of your car has a numeric value of at least 3.1 you should definitely run the 5K at the Meijer State Games of Michigan.
Thanks to the magic of age and gender divisions, 18 of the 39 athletes that participated in the 2014 race received gold medals, and only two athletes failed to medal at all.
4. Horseshoes – Wedgewood Park, Grandville
Horseshoes is a serious sport to some people. To others, it’s a game played primarily during family reunions and 4th grade birthday parties. Well, if horseshoes falls into the latter category for you, you’re in luck. The Meijer State Games of Michigan allows “amateur” horseshoe players to compete in the “B” division, thereby creating a chance for people that might not be classically trained (or classically athletic) to show off their hand-eye coordination.
It is important to point out that, unlike the horseshoe games at your family reunion, absolutely no alcohol is permitted during the State Games, so your courage will have to be all natural, and not of the liquid variety.
5. Bowling - Spectrum Lanes, Wyoming
At the last Summer Games, there were so few female bowling participants in the high school age division that the lone girl that bowled received a gold medal, and the same thing happened during the 2015 Winter Games as well. If you’re in high school, chances are you’ve bowled with friends at one point or another, so you might as well bring your friends to the bowling alley to compete with medals on the line as opposed to simply intra-group bragging rights.
As an added bonus, bowling is one of the few sports contested at the Meijer State Games in both the summer and winter, and it is easily the most accessible and recreational of the multi-Games sports. Not only can you win medals, you get to win them twice a year. Besides, you get to do your medal winning in a bowling alley, and there aren’t many places that are more fun to hang out in general, let alone win things.
Which sport would you compete in the Meijer State Games?
About the author: Ian Douglass is the social media marketing director for the West Michigan Sports Commission, and is also a managing consultant for several exercise equipment companies. After graduating from the University of Michigan and the Specs Howard School of Media Arts, Ian went on to earn a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, along with graduate certificates from Dartmouth College and Cornell University. Ian has held a variety of communications and marketing positions for several companies, including a stint in California managing the staff of the world famous Movoto Blog.”